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The wretched plight of Tessa Beetge, who has been incarcerated in Brazil for drug trafficking, is a shame on the nation, says Hal Venter.
In spite of Sheryl Cwele and her flunky, Frank Nabolisa, being found guilty in a South African court and sentenced for tricking Beetge into unknowingly trafficking a consignment of drugs to Brazil in her luggage, there has been absolutely no attempt by our government to request leniency for her from the Brazilian prison authorities and to bring her home. The positive influence of our Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) membership should surely count for something?
Beetge is halfway through her eight-year sentence and is expected to be considered for a limited form of parole, which if it is granted, she must frighteningly endure on the crime-ridden streets of São Paulo because she will not be allowed to return home to South Africa until the full period of her sentence has been completed.
There has been a deafening silence from the South African government and society in general on Tessa’s plight.
Shame on South Africa. Maybe the government’s uncaring ineptitude is because it is embarrassed that Sheryl Cwele is the wife of cabinet minister Siyabonga Cwele.
I thought there was a far more caring ethos in South Africa and hoped that some wealthy benefactor or a government agency could offer her assistance to petition the Brazilian government for clemency, or to perhaps provide her with financial assistance to obtain accommodation and sustenance during her possible lengthy parole period. There but for the grace of God goes she!
Our government has been disgustingly lax at enlightening South African citizens on the ingenious methods employed by the drug cartels to ensnare gullible folk as so-called drug mules.
Many of them are destitute and have limited access to media exposes on the international travel drug hazards.
It would be a simple inexpensive procedure to erect warning signage at our airports.
Officials at exit points could hand out warning pamphlets that elaborate on the absolute necessity, before departure, to check all suspicious items in their luggage that may contain illegal substances. If the government got proactive to protect its citizens there might be far less Beetges languishing in foreign prison cesspits.
Highway Gardens, Edenvale
* The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.